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First drive: Maserati Quattroporte GTS. Image by Maserati.

First drive: Maserati Quattroporte GTS
German substance versus Italian brio: should you opt for the Maserati Quattroporte?

 



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Maserati Quattroporte GTS

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Revised looks, a better equipped and sharper designed interior and a slight tweak to the aerodynamics in order to reduce fuel consumption - as well as bumping up the top speed - are the recipe changes Maserati has enacted on the 2017MY Quattroporte. It's not enough, though, to have us announcing that the reigning executive saloon king, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, has been dethroned.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Maserati Quattroporte GTS GranSport
Pricing: from 70,510; GTS GranSport from 115,980
Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, eight-speed ZF automatic
Body style: four-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 250g/km (VED Band L, 885 first 12 months, 500 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 26.4mpg
Top speed: 194mph
0-62mph: 4.7 seconds
Power: 530hp at 6,800rpm
Torque: 650Nm at 2,000- to 4,000rpm; 710Nm on overboost at 2,250- to 3,500rpm

What's this?

Maserati's evocative Quattroporte model, now in its sixth-generation facelifted guise. Which, as seems to be the norm these days, is a minimal overhaul compared to the 2016MY cars. The front bumper has been re-sculpted and now sits below a grille with the chrome quotient bumped up to 'chintzy', and behind said grille is an 'Air Shutter' that can open and close to allow the big Italian saloon to better cut through the air. Inside, a new capacitive 8.4-inch touchscreen dominates the dash and it's a decent bit of kit to use, with good, clear graphics and reasonably intuitive menu structures. Connectivity has been ramped up with the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while a wealth of driver assist safety systems are drafted in - although really, a car at this level should have had such features (which you can get on, for example, a Nissan Pulsar) a long time ago.

The range is very simple in the UK. We don't get the Q4 all-wheel drive version of the S that is sold on the continent, so all Quattroportes here are rear-wheel drive. All of them have an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, with gorgeous metal paddle shifters on the steering column. And there are the same three engine choices as we had before. The Quattroporte Diesel has a 3.0-litre single-turbo V6 with 275hp and 600Nm, enough for 158mph and 6.4 seconds for 0-62mph, with 45.6mpg and 163g/km CO2. It starts from 70,510.

Then there is a pair of biturbo petrol units, these engines closely liked with Ferrari. There's a 3.0-litre V6 in the Quattroporte S, with 410hp, 550Nm, 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds and a top speed of 179mph, all for 82,750. And topping off the line-up is this 115,980 GTS bad boy, its 3.8-litre V8 delivering 530hp, 650Nm (710Nm on a time-limited overboost phase), a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed knocking on the door of 200mph.

Both the Diesel and the S come in a 'base' trim that carries no nomenclature, but for 8,400 on top of their list prices, buyers can opt for either GranLusso (luxury) or GranSport (er... sport) specification. Both add themed exterior styling, bigger alloys - 20s on the Lusso, 21s on the Sport - and additional interior trim finishes to differentiate them from their regular brethren. The GTS is only available in GranLusso or GranSport grades, meaning it's just shy of 25,000 more expensive than a comparative S model (91,150).

How does it drive?

If the current Maserati four-door flagship were as astonishingly beautiful as the Quattroporte V that went before it, that'd be a USP. If it drove in anything like as sharp and focused a manner as the Quattroporte V, which had a normally aspirated Ferrari V8 in its nose and the sort of aggressive suspension settings that wouldn't have disgraced the MC12, we'd be raving about it. If it were considerably cheaper than key German rivals (or even the Jaguar XJ), then this would be a more favourable review.

But it is none of those things. In order to iron out the undoubted flaws of that charismatic Quattroporte V, Maserati has very sensibly developed the latest iteration to be smoother, more rounded and more spacious. And, as a result, while the QP VI is unquestionably a superior vehicle in nearly every respect, by the same token it's lacking in star appeal. Sure, it remains a nicer thing to look at than a Mercedes S-Class or BMW 7 Series, but it's not so pretty that you can't tear your eyes away from it. The rear end in particular doesn't exactly shout Maserati; now the Alfa Romeo Giulia has arrived, those light clusters are not as unique as they once were.

It's also saddled with an almost comically long wheelbase of 3,171mm, which does nothing for its shape in profile. That does mean there's room in the back for actual adults, as opposed to the mystical hobbit-sized beings that were the only things that could fit into the rear of a Quattroporte V. Such a long wheelbase should also lead to a superb ride, especially as all Quattroportes have the marque's Skyhook adaptive damping system fitted.

Regrettably, the facelifted Quattroporte VI is neither sublimely comfortable nor rapier-sharp in the bends. It's not dreadful at either discipline, as the ride around town is firm but nicely controlled, while at greater pace on mountainous roads it resists understeer and keeps its body largely flat at all times. That ZF gearbox is a belter, too, quick to react to inputs and smooth at shifting cogs.

Yet there are areas that could do with just a touch more polish. The steering, in particular. Given this is a good old hydraulic rack and not an EPAS system, it fails to live up to expectations. It's too loose around the dead ahead and too inconsistent in its weighting, so you never build a solid rapport with the GTS, you never feel confident about the front-end levels of grip. That makes placing the Maserati on the road a rather imprecise affair, which infects the cornering from turn-in to exit. Coupled with damping that has a nervous feeling during the rebound phase (this is especially noticeable when the Quattroporte hits a big compression, as the whole car shimmies laterally in the aftermath) and brakes that are merely good, rather than excellent, it all adds up to a dynamic performance from the GTS that's a little bit lacklustre. It says a lot about the Quattroporte's character that we later enjoyed steering a Diesel model quickly just as much as we did the V8 biturbo.

Which brings us onto the drivetrain. No doubt the 3.8-litre lump is a fine piece of engineering. It likes to rev, it remains velvet smooth whether idling about town or chasing its 7,200rpm redline and it's blessed with a crisp, linear throttle that makes metering out its prodigious power and torque reserves a cinch. And the Quattroporte GTS is quick, picking up the pace impressively all around the tachometer. It's just that it never feels dementedly rapid, and it certainly doesn't sound it. The Quattroporte GTS has more of a creamy, muffled roar to its voice in lieu of any proper Italian V8 histrionics, and Maserati has resisted making the saloon's quad exhausts naughtily obscene. Put it this way, tunnel-running alongside a Quattroporte S, it was the V6 Maserati that was making all the best sounds; the GTS is just too muted for our liking.

Verdict

The 2017MY Maserati Quattroporte is not a failure; far from it. Here is a well-resolved car with an attractive, spacious interior, plenty of equipment, high levels of refinement and a punchy drivetrain, all packaged up in an eye-catching body. It's not particularly cheap, even by the standards of the class in which it competes, but as Maserati remains an exotic brand, the robust list prices of the new Quattroporte aren't outrageously exorbitant.

So pick one and you'll win a hell of a lot of street cred from the motoring cognoscenti. But the same people will also know you've picked a car that isn't quite as stellar in all departments as much of the opposition. The Mercedes-AMG S 63, the ageing Audi S8 plus, the divisive Jaguar XJR - all of these cars can do everything the Maserati can, and a little more besides. They might not be as romantically named as the Maserati 'four-door', yet they're unequivocally the better machines. We'll therefore have to wait for the Quattroporte VII to see if the Italians can finally break the German stranglehold on this market segment.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 16 Jun 2016









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2016 Maserati Quattroporte GTS Gran Sport. Image by Maserati.2016 Maserati Quattroporte GTS Gran Sport. Image by Maserati.2016 Maserati Quattroporte GTS Gran Sport. Image by Maserati.2016 Maserati Quattroporte GTS Gran Sport. Image by Maserati.2016 Maserati Quattroporte GTS Gran Sport. Image by Maserati.

2016 Maserati Quattroporte GTS Gran Sport. Image by Maserati.2016 Maserati Quattroporte GTS Gran Sport. Image by Maserati.2016 Maserati Quattroporte GTS Gran Sport. Image by Maserati.2016 Maserati Quattroporte GTS Gran Sport. Image by Maserati.2016 Maserati Quattroporte GTS Gran Sport. Image by Maserati.








 

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